Chapters Twenty-Two – Twenty-Three



Chapter Twenty-Two

“Bingley, please calm yourself!” Darcy pleaded. He nodded to the footman and requested some port for his friend. Then he urged him to sit down and join the family for breakfast.

“Calm myself? How can I? I can’t even bring myself to face your wife! My sister – my own sister…” he spat in disgust.

“Charles, you need to do something… She has behaved disgus-- very poorly… She has outdone herself… Elizabeth has a very forgiving nature but I do not.” Darcy stated grimly as he paused at the door, his hand on the knob tightened in disgust.

“I have sent her away with the Hursts. I had a long talk with Louisa and Reginald last night. We are sending her to our Aunt in Scarborough. She will be given medical attention as well. She is not well, Darcy. You could see that, could you not?” Bingley sighed miserably. “I truly don’t recognize her anymore. She used to be a sweet girl, whatever happened? What am I to do with her?”

Darcy could not find any words to comfort his dearest friend. Thus, he extended his hand and squeezed his shoulder with brotherly affection and a gentle smile.

The gentlemen entered the breakfast room where the ladies were already engaged with their morning repast. Mr Bingley blushed violently as he bowed to Elizabeth and stuttered his address. His mortification was palpable to every one. As it was natural to Elizabeth, she immediately set out to make him feel more comfortable and forget his sister’s appalling behaviour of the previous evening.

“Do not distress yourself, Mr Bingley. You are not responsible for Miss Bingley’s behaviour.” She assured him earnestly. “Come, dear sir. Will you partake of some breakfast with us?” she graciously directed him to a seat and pored him some tea. She smiled at his large pout and at her frowning sister Jane. Thus, she decided to close the matter and lighten the mood. “My dear Mr Bingley, please, it is all past now and every unpleasant circumstance attending it ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

Bingley looked up into his hostess’s bright eyes and reluctantly smiled. Gazing over towards his dear Jane, he eclipsed his grief over his sister with the image of Jane branded on his mind. He broke into a dazzling smile when Jane blushed prettily under the intensity of his scrutiny. Georgiana smiled widely and sighed loudly mumbling “how romantic” which caused her brother and wife to roll their eyes good-naturedly.

“Bingley, it seems we have a conversation to be held which has now become long overdue.” Darcy started barely disguising his mirth.

Bingley startled at his host’s words. He coloured deeply and agreed.

“Perhaps after breakfast? My f-friend? ” Darcy felt slightly nervous about addressing his friend as such. Hadn’t he been the cause of his misery and Jane’s? Would Bingley ever be willing to forgive him?

“Yes, yes indeed!” Bingley shouted enthusiastically startling the ladies of whom two dissolved into bright smiles, and one reddened prettily, as they realized what sort of interview might follow.

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Jane, who never had any reserves from Elizabeth, finally confessed to her dearest sister that Bingley had proposed the day before. Elizabeth and Georgiana instantly embraced her and congratulations were given with a sincerity, a warmth, a delight, which words could but poorly express. Every sentence of kindness was a fresh source of happiness to Jane. She acknowledged, with the liveliest emotion, that she was indeed the happiest creature in the world.

“'Tis too much!” she added, “by far too much! I do not deserve it! Oh! Why is not everybody as happy?” she cried with her eyes misty, sparkling with true happiness. Consternation swiftly crossed her beautiful face as she cried out, “Oh dear Lizzy! Forgive me, I do not mean… I do not presume you are not happy… Anyone can see…. I dare say, Mr Darcy is very attentive to you and you…”

Elizabeth laughed openly at her sister’s obvious embarrassment. “Dearest Jane, please… Do not distress yourself! I understand what you mean! And… of course I am happy… exceedingly happy.”

Jane embraced her sister again barely containing her bliss. She was restless from sheer joy.

“I must write instantly to my mother;” she cried. “I would not on any account allow her to hear it from any one but myself. He is gone to my brother. Oh Lizzy! To know that what I have to relate will give such pleasure to all my dear family! How shall I bear so much happiness? If only Papa were here with us…”

The sisters looked at each other longingly as their eyes filled with tears of sorrow. Elizabeth squeezed Jane’s hands tenderly and whispered “He is with us dear Jane… He is happy…”

Jane smiled tightly, barely containing her emotions. She then hastened away to her room to write a letter to her mother.

Elizabeth, who was left in Georgiana’s company, smiled at the rapidity and ease with which the affair was finally settled, that had given her so many previous months of suspense and worry.

“Georgie... How would you like Mr Bingley as a brother?”

“Very much! I have been so used to his company over the years… I have long seen him as another brother!”

A mischievous grin adorned Elizabeth’s lips. “What of Miss Bingley? Would you care for such a sister, my dear?”

Georgiana could not successfully disguise from her sister the horror that graced her pale face. Mortified, she whispered, “Oh Lizzy! She has been so cruel… Poor Jane! Such a sister!”

“Poor us, poor all of us, Georgiana!” chuckled Elizabeth as she embraced the young girl.

In a few minutes they were joined by the bride to be again who was restlessly waiting for Bingley and Darcy.

“Lizzy,” she whispered nervously “You don’t think… Will Mr Darcy withdraw his consent? They are taking too much time, are they not?”

The door suddenly opened and in came the gentlemen. Their smiling countenances quietened Jane’s concerns immediately. Bingley came toward Elizabeth and Georgiana claiming the good wishes and affection of sisters. Both ladies honestly and heartily expressed their delight in the prospect of their relationship. They shook hands with great cordiality; and then, for a seemingly long time, they all had to listen to all he had to say of his own happiness, and of Jane's perfections.

It was a morning of no common delight to them all; the satisfaction of Jane’s mind gave a glow of such sweet animation to her face, as made her look handsomer than ever.

Darcy announced to all that he had given his consent and Bingley had already written Mr Gardiner for his, as he was the eldest male relative of the Bennet family. Darcy turned to his new sister and said, “Jane, I congratulate you. You will be very happy, my dear sister.”

Jane went to him instantly, kissed his cheek, and thanked him for his goodness.

“You and Bingley deserve all the happiness you wish for,” he replied. “And I have great pleasure in thinking you will be so happily settled. I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike.” A sly smile curved his lips slightly as he teased them “You are both so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income.”

Amused shock froze the face of all. Mr Darcy, teasing? After exchanging silent glances among them, they all burst in laughter.

Georgiana smiled shyly as she observed the animation of all. She privately compared this joyous moment with the shady engagement and near elopement she had lived with Wickham. How wrong everything appeared to her at the moment. Do I not deserve to be as happy as Jane is now? And be the most fortunate creature that ever existed as Jane claimed to be? And giver my dearest brother such joy? Her eyes became moist as sorrow filled her broken heart.

Tuned to his sister’s moods, Darcy approached her discretely and reached for her hand for a loving squeeze of support. “You shall be happy, my love. I promise… You will be very happy!” he whispered against her temple as he kissed her blonde curls. He caught inadvertently Elizabeth’s gaze. Silent understanding was communicated through their loving eyes as they perceived Georgiana’s distress. You will be happy, he thought, as Elizabeth has made me the happiest man in England.

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Indeed, Darcy couldn’t be happier than he was at the moment. The loneliness that had filled his empty life was no longer there. He had at last Elizabeth’s love and devotion. Despite her frequent reassurances that she loved him, at his request, he still felt somewhat insecure as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune.

The couple had survived through misfortunes which brought them great pain. Nevertheless, their grief have brought them closer together and allowed their love to grow.

The bliss of having Elizabeth in his arms and the certainty of her presence by his side made him realize the arrogance of his former misconceptions about her family and even her suitability as a Darcy wife. How arrogant and presumptuous he had been! His pride and conceit had cost him so dearly… He could have had the privilege of Elizabeth’s regard much earlier. He would have been deserving of her affection, of her love.

As Darcy’s thoughts flowed through his mind, he realized that his decision to bring his family to Brighton had been a great one. Elizabeth blossomed in the sun and the sea. Her sisters’ care was instrumental for Jane and Georgiana could not be more solicitous to her full recovery.

Courting Elizabeth had also become a thrilling prospect to him. He relished in his delight as he observed Elizabeth’s sweet excitement when he lavished upon her little tokens of his love. Books, perfume, jewellery and elegant finery pleased her. But nothing had made her beautiful eyes shine brighter than his latest gift. He had offered her the opportunity to go sea bathing. For the last five days, he accompanied her and was privileged to share her childish enthusiasm. On her first day, how her beautiful dark eyes sparkled and her smile widened when she came out of the bathing machine* he had secured for her! How her creamy skin glowed!

He needed to restrain his ardour for her every time he accompanied her to her sea adventure. He longed to go bathing with her and experience her excitement and daringly teach her to swim. But propriety would not allow it and he certainly would not expose his wife to scandal or even impose himself on her modesty.

Thus, one night, it was with great astonishment that he received her request for his company on the next morning. She wanted her husband to teach her to swim. Darcy was certainly not one to let go such an opportunity so, after cautioning her about the certainty of shocking Mrs Clark, the dipper, he agreed to it.

At dawn** they readied themselves for their sea bathing adventure. The early September morning was chilly but it was no discouragement to their plans. Darcy and Elizabeth walked towards the beach looking for the leased bathing machine. They approached the vehicle where Mr and Mrs Clark stood by conversing quietly as they fed the horse.

When the couples greeted each other, Mrs Clark, sharp as she was, noticed that Elizabeth was blushing quite fiercely as she gripped Mr Darcy’s arm. She was also uncharacteristically silent which intrigued the woman immensely. Mrs Clark admired Mrs Darcy’s lively and enthusiastic nature. She was definitely not one of those simpering superior ladies of the ton who barely acknowledged her existence and always dismissed her rudely. No, Mrs Darcy was a delightful and generous young lady who was predisposed to be kind to all those who surrounded her. Therefore, she felt something was amiss that morning when she saw Mrs Darcy standing quietly and still by her husband’s side, instead of the talkative one who, by then, would have already climbed into the machine, barely containing her thrill.

Darcy gently guided Elizabeth up the steps into the wooden hut and followed behind her, surprising the dipper. He turned to face her, revealing a slight blush on his handsome features, and informed her,

“Mrs Darcy will not be requiring your services today, Mrs Clark. I shall signal when we are ready to go into the water.”

He quickly closed the door behind him, preventing him from seeing the woman’s impish grin lighting up her countenance. She winked at her husband as both were quite aware of their clients’ encounter obviously of a romantic nature. Mrs Clark smiled wistfully as she recalled her youthful days when she and Mr Clark would use their bathing machine for amorous interludes in the sea as well.

As the Clarks reminisced about their passionate sea bathing memories, the Darcys were about to create new ones of their own as they readied themselves inside the narrow bathing machine. A blushing Elizabeth was eager and clumsily assisted by her flustered husband as she changed her clothes into a thin muslin shift. Then, it was Darcy’s turn to be assisted in his undressing. To his wife’s further embarrassment, he sat stark naked*** on the bench set against the length of the machine’s wall.

Elizabeth was quite embarrassed as she observed furtively her husband’s gorgeous figure. The oddity of both being in such a state of undress outdoors and in daylight, even though they were both inside the machine was quite awkward for her. However, she boldly fixed her gaze on him.

Darcy watched his wife intensely as well. The white gauzy shift made her look ethereal and, simultaneously, an alluring seductress. The sight of her innocent yet seductive loveliness and the prospect of bathing with her swiftly left him in an aroused state. In order to prevent her from further awkwardness before she noticed his erection, he grabbed her wrist and directed her onto his lap. She quickly settled herself into his warm embrace as she nuzzled her face into his chest, and kissing lightly his neck.

“Are you bathing dressed like that?! ” she asked him in a small voice.

Darcy laughed quietly at her choice of words. “Dressedlike this, my love? But I see no clothes… Do you?”

She sat up straight and looked into his eyes attempting to be serious, “You delight in teasing me, Mr Darcy! You knowwhat I mean!”

She attempted to withdraw from his arms but he would not let her go. He chuckled as he started caressing her face with such tenderness and care that it melted her heart. Then he explained, “Men usually bathe in this manner… but if it disturbs you, dearest, I shall wear my shirt.”

“B-But then you will have no shirt to wear! You cannot wear a wet shirt, Fitzwilliam!”

“No, my love?” he laughed again. “I would have to agree with you… It would not do to cause such a scandal… that would be quite a sight, Mrs Darcy, would it not?”

They both giggled spelling away her embarrassment. They quietened suddenly as passion filled their eyes. They were drawn to each other until their lips touched. First softly, but then it escalated into an ardent kiss, each exploring the other’s body. they felt the need to melt into the other and pour their love into each other’s soul. They suddenly stopped breathless as they regained their senses. By then a panting Darcy signalled to the Clarks by knocking on the door to set the vehicle in motion.

Mr Clark mounted the horse which pulled the bathing machine across the sand. Mindful of the couples’ need for more privacy than usual, he directed the horse to a more secluded area of the beach. He rolled the machine into the water until reaching the required depth and he paused to guard the animal’s immobility during the bathing procedure and carefully turning his back to them.

Elizabeth and Darcy were hesitant to leave the present location. They wanted to playfully get into the water but the allurement of being in each other’s embrace in such an intimate manner was quite compelling. Reason overruled the senses as Elizabeth stood up and pulled her husband to open the machine’s door facing the wide watery horizon. They carefully descended the steps into the water both shivering violently at the change of temperatures: the heat of passion on their skin clashing against the iciness of the sea water.

With the water up to Elizabeth’s neck, Darcy started to guide her in her first attempts to swim. In between much laughter, caressing and teasing, as well as many stolen kisses, she managed to perform some strokes even though quite clumsily. The playful mood between them slowly changed into the ardent one lived moments before. Darcy grasped Elizabeth by her waist pulling her against his body, revealing to her the force of his arousal. They silently stared into each other’s dark eyes and surrendered to the raw passion lurking behind them. The sight of her husband’s masculine chest left her breathless. He was mesmerized by the display of her breasts in the wet shift. Her nipples hard and pointed by the coldness of the water and his previous stimulation.

She wrapped her legs around his hips opening herself to his bold caressing. She quickly began panting as her excitement grew under his determined ministration. Sensing her immediate readiness, he entered her with a vigorous thrust. She shuddered strongly as he entered her, making her clasp his body more tightly, sinking her teeth into his shoulder, bracing herself for the waves of pleasure he would surely bring to her. The feeling of the heat of their love making beneath their cold skin created such an erotic contrast that intensified their encounter to a level they never experienced before. He penetrated her repeatedly, oblivious to their surrounding. Certain that he would soon be unable to stand, he stopped his thrusting, but still deeply embedded in her hot sheath, moved towards the machine’s steps. He carefully deposited her on the last step and knelt between her legs. He cupped her cheek while devouring her eyes.

“I love you, Fitzwilliam.” She whispered reverently as she mirrored his caress.

“Oh G-d! How I love you so, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!” he said in hoarse voice. Unable to hold back any longer he penetrated her again in one decided thrust. He plunged deeply inside her and he muffled her moaning as he voraciously kissed her. The pressure building inside them was almost unbearable. He rode her fiercely, unleashing the rawness of their passion. He was being rough, and he knew it, but was no longer in control of himself. Elizabeth suddenly arched her back and released her arms from his neck as she climaxed violently, tiny tears leaking from her eyes. He groaned into her mouth as he exploded into her, branding her inside with his seed. He collapsed completely spent in her embrace for some minutes.

As they were regaining control of their breathing and of their limbs, he realized the precariousness of their situation. Darcy, ever mindful of his wife’s welfare, swiftly looked around to ascertain their relative seclusion. He sighed with satisfaction as they were quite far away from the only two bathing machines that were in the water. He was certainly indebted to the Clarks who cleverly assured their privacy.

Looking down into his wife’s adorably flushed face, he smiled proudly at her obviously satiated look. He gently cuddled her into his arms and carried into the machine.

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1. The Bathing Machine, invented in the early 1700’s by Benjamin Beale, was a wooden hut built on wheels into which a Regency lady could ascend. Once inside, she could change into garments suitable for bathing (in most cases a muslin shift) The vehicle would then be pulled by horses or a bathing-woman out into to ocean until the water was about shoulder deep where the lady would descend the stairs with the aid of the bathing woman (called a Dipper) and, once submerged, begin to enjoy all the healthful benefits of the sea. In such a way, the ladies of the upper class were able to enjoy the ocean, while preserving their modesty. For pictures of a bathing machine go to

2. Since the best time for bathing was said to be the early in the morning, while the pores were still closed, even in summer the sea would not have had a chance to warm up by the time most people went in. Sea bathing was also considered to be safest in the winter. See

3. Women bathed in the nude or in neck to heel flannels. Men bathed in the nude in a separate area 200 yards away from the women & were known to observe them bathing through a spyglass. Some gentlemen went beyond wading & took an invigorating swim in the ocean. See

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Chapter Twenty-Three

London, five months later…

The doors opened up to the bright February morning. In she walked dressed in a suave lavender dress. As she floated down the aisle, the timid sunrays played with her dark curls, rendering the delicate flowers and pearls into tiny stars. Bliss made her eyes sparkle as she raised them towards the object of her affection. There he stood at the altar – tall and handsome – beside his dearest friend. Their eyes locked in a passionate gaze and they smiled at each other shyly as she kept walking towards him. They were entirely oblivious to all and everything. Just the two of them… in a blissful haze.

“I say Darce!” Bingley elbowed his best man’s ribs as he repeated “Darcy! Let me tell you, my friend… If I didn’t know better, I would say you were the groom!” he chuckled lightly as he watched his friend in a nervous trance as he beheld the sight of his delectable wife.

Without wavering his gaze from Elizabeth’s as she took her place at the opposite side of the altar, he whispered back “Shut up, Bingley!”

But Bingley was no longer paying heed to his best man’s curt reply as the sight of his bride captured his attention. Jane was the picture of loveliness as she approached him slowly on Mr Gardiner’s arm.

The wedding took place in Saint Martin’s church – the parish the Gardiners had always attended – as Jane and her family were no longer comfortable at the Longbourn church which had been under Mr Bennet’s tutelage. It was now the responsibility of their cousin Mr Collins.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is…”

As Reverend Parks carried out the services and the bride and groom exchanged their vows, Elizabeth and Darcy continued staring at each other in a daze. They were silently but fervently reliving their own wedding – which had taken place many months ago and under the most unfortunate circumstances. They had endured their own personal misfortunes – Mr Bennet’s demise, the loss of Longbourn, the horrors of their quarrelling, Lydia’s elopement… and the loss of their child… The unhappiness of the past clouded their eyes for a brief moment. But as they reflected upon Mr Parks’s words they exchanged loving glances and a shy smile.

“…and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites…”

Both Darcy and Elizabeth’s countenances became serious as they listened to the solemn words. Darcy had certainly not pursued Elizabeth out of lust. He loved her then but it was no where close to the strength of his regard for her at present.

“… but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.”

Elizabeth’s eyes misted as she thought of all the wrong misconceptions with which she had entered the married state. Had she not accepted him “unadvisedly”? She raised her gaze to her husband’s…

“First, it was ordained for the procreation of children…”

He smiled proudly at her and let his eyes drop in a caress towards her middle. She instinctively and discretely touched the slight swelling of her belly. She had suspected her condition for some time – they both did, as Fitzwilliam was very attentive to all the nuances of her body. They had been blessed nearly a week ago when she had felt the longed for quickening.

“Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication…”

Their union was a passionate one but it had also been forged out of love and pure devotion for each other.

“Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity…”

Yes, Darcy thought overwhelmed. She is the wife I had always dreamed of… a companion… my partner and equal in life… We have both endured great misfortunes but have grown out of them stronger and better persons…

But soon the parson was giving leave to the bride and groom to exchange their wedding vows. The Darcys smiled at each other and silently pledged themselves to each other again as Bingley and Jane voiced the sacred words.

I Fitzwilliam take thee Elizabeth to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Darcy breathed in deeply to control his rampant emotions. His wife’s fine eyes sparkled with unshed tears as she silently repeated after Jane’s vows. This time – they both knew for certain – Elizabeth meant every word uttered. She truly loved him and Darcy had earned both her love and respect.

I Elizabeth take thee Fitzwilliam to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

The best man and the maid of honour were so caught up in their feelings – in their own private ceremony – they barely realized the wedding was over. Their reverie was shattered as the newly wedded Mr and Mrs Bingley motioned to descend the aisle towards outside. They followed closely and swiftly took each others’ hands in a tender squeeze of affection. Darcy placed his wife’s hand in the crook of his arm and leaned forward towards her.

“My love, my dearest wife…” he whispered fervently. He covered her hand with his which remained there quite permanently until they reached the Darcy House for the wedding breakfast.

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The Bingleys stood in the grand hall as they received their guests’ congratulations and best wishes for their happiness. Next to them were the Gardiners and Mrs Bennet as well the hosts – the Darcys – who were offering the wedding feast at their own home. Elizabeth was overjoyed at the sight of her dearest sister’s happiness. Jane was positively glowing as she held her husband’s arm and both received everyone’s attentions with brilliant smiles on their faces.

Elizabeth sighed contentedly as she felt her husband’s unmistakable touch on the small of her back. A slight shiver ran through her body as he discretely caressed her back in slow feathery touches. She leaned against him ever so lightly as to not shock any of their guests.

Darcy bent his head and whispered against her curls “Are you well, my love?”

She turned to look at him and gasped at the intensity of his eyes. The depth of his feelings revealed by the passion of his gaze never ceased to amaze her. Oblivious to all the guests around them, she raised her hand to touch his face with a loving caress.

“Yes, I am well… More than well, my love. I am exceedingly happy!” she whispered back at him.

He slid his hand around her waist to pull her more closely against his body, clearly dismissing any concerns for propriety. Emboldened by his gesture, Elizabeth reached for his hand and placed it fleetingly over the swell where their child lay. She sensed his large smile before being able to see it as their brief interlude was interrupted by the harshness of Miss Bingley’s voice.

In a stately and superior pose, Caroline Bingley arrived amidst the rustling of orange silk and feathers, clinging fiercely on the arm of a tall gentleman. She introduced him to the bridal party as being a Lord Sandhurst whom she had met in Scarborough in her forced exile at her aunt’s. Lord Sandhurst was a younger son who had made fortune in trade and had recently inherited his brother’s estate upon his unexpected demise. The gentleman was obviously much older than her – he was one and fifty – but still quite handsome and very agreeable.

By the way Miss Bingley clutched his arm ferociously, it was clear to all that she had set her cap on him. She took great pleasure in flaunting about with him in front of the Darcys and Mrs Bennet as she called him her “dearest Lord Sandhurst” – the emphasis of her tone falling quite distinctively upon the word Lord.

Reports were swiftly being whispered around the dining-room about Lord Sandhurst’s fortune. His estate – Featherstone Manor – was proudly situated in Wales. It was described as being grander than Mr Darcy’s Pemberley. As for the size of the gentleman’s wallet it was rumoured that he had an income of twenty thousand a year.

Caroline Bingley smiled perversely and with great satisfaction as she heard Mrs Philips whisper loudly to her dear sister about her snatching the gentleman of twenty thousand a year. Mrs Bennet’s eyes grew frightfully large as she took in this information. She felt all her nerves fluttering alive and squealed loudly,

“Twenty thousand a year! Oh my! I shall go distracted! Are you certain sister?” she pried frantically as she grabbed Mrs Philips’s arm. “Twenty thousand? Mr Darcy is nothing to him!”

Both Elizabeth and Darcy blushed from embarrassment as they overheard Mrs Bennet’s outburst. Their consternation grew exponentially as they realized that Lord Sandhurst and Miss Bingley had heard as well.

“He is quite handsome I dare say… Twenty thousa— What a fair prospect for dear Kitty!” she screeched as she turned around. She suddenly realized that the object of her gossip had overheard her words as well as Miss Bingley, Elizabeth and Darcy. The latter couple was clearly struggling to overcome their embarrassment over her lack of propriety. And the former one was surprisingly amused. Miss Bingley grinned largely and felt utterly pleased for watching Mrs Bennet humiliate herself in the Darcys’ presence.

But it was Lord Sandhurst’s reaction that astonished all. He laughed merrily and withdrew his arm from Miss Bingley’s grasp and approached the Bennet matron. He bowed respectfully towards her and reached for her hand.

“Madam, you are uniformly charming!” He exclaimed with undisguised amusement and kissed her hand gallantly.

A flushed Mrs Bennet stuttered as she thanked the gentleman. But Miss Bingley scowled as she recognised the gleam in the older woman’s eyes. Mrs Bennet was undeniably setting her mind in motion: she was already scheming to entrap Lord Sandhurst to marry one of her remaining daughters.

Not if I can help it, she repeated to herself as she dashed towards the man and draped herself on his arm. Let Eliza keep Darcy! Darcy is nothing to him! And Sandhurst will be mine! Lady Sandhurst… how well that sounds! And she turned her obnoxiously sweet smile towards the man she was determined to marry.

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Elizabeth smiled as she felt her husband’s lips worship her bosom. She was extremely tired but happy. Her dearest Jane was now married and away in her new home. The wedding had been a success… apart from her mother’s behaviour… only the absence of her beloved father had shadowed such a joyous day!

Yes, Elizabeth had all the reasons to feel happy. Blissfully happy… and thoroughly loved… Nay, ravished… as her husband constantly reminded her. She chuckled lightly as his stubbled face tickled her sensitive flesh.

“Are you laughing at me, Mrs Darcy?” he asked desperately attempting to remain serious. “I’m trying veryhard to seduce you, madam!”

She laughed openly at the sight of his frowning beloved face lying between her soft breasts. She slid her fingers into his dark curls and caressed his head. He closed his eyes contentedly and sighed deeply.

“You are well aware, dear husband… that seducing me is no hardship! You have me at your mercy… my love.” She whispered huskily as the intensity of his caresses increased.

Darcy drew closer to her face and caught her lips in a passionate kiss. He tasted the sweetness of her mouth as he let his hands roam freely over her breasts, teasing her sensitive tips and the slight bulge of her pregnant belly. He worshipped her body with fervour, leaving her panting from need. Ever since their first union in Brighton, both Elizabeth and Darcy seemed unable to keep their hands off each other. They felt the urge to seek refuge in the other. Their bodies melded together as their own souls met. The intimacy of their love making overwhelmed them over and over again. And it was in the expression of their love that they had created the miracle of life growing inside her. They had even argued over when they had “made” their baby. She believed it had been the first time they joined in Brighton… he was firmly convinced it had been conceived when they went sea bathing together!

He turned her body on her side as he spooned his against her. He nibbled her neck and shoulder and cupped her breasts from behind. The bulging of his arousal incited Elizabeth to rub herself against him, enticing her husband to go further. He laughed softly at her impatience.

“Fitzwilliam… please!” she whined and wriggled against him.

Unable to deny her pleasure any longer her lifted her leg and gently placed it over his, opening herself to him. He entered her slowly from behind, feeling completely engulfed by the softness and warmth of her womanhood. Entranced by the love he felt for her and their child he initiated their intimate dance. It was not a wild need to possess the other – as sometimes they were wont to do. It was an expression of tenderness, devotion, worship. They were clearly consummating their love… their marriage. The Bingleys’ wedding had brought forth the urge to repeat their vows and pledge themselves again. Thus, their joining in bed was the natural fulfilment of their commitment to each other. Their lives were irrevocably entwined just like their bodies as they made love and celebrated the life they had created within her.

Darcy placed his hands on her belly, lovingly, as he murmured her name into her hair repeatedly. Elizabeth felt the pressure of the delightful sensations building up within her body and soon shuddered strongly within his embrace. Her climax ignited his own and almost immediately after her his seed erupted inside her.

She was still trembling and breathing raggedly as she turned to face him. Elizabeth smiled and her eyes were shiny with satisfaction as she looked at him and tenderly touched his face. “I love you Fitzwilliam!” she whispered before meeting his mouth with a deep sigh. They kissed for a while, slowly and teasingly. Darcy nibbled playfully her lips while caressing her hips. He relinquished her mouth to gaze into her eyes. His devotion for her glowed on his handsome face. He murmured soft words of adoration into her ear as he smoothed her hair. How he loved the wild disarray of her curls! How he loved the sated gleam in her eyes! How he loved her ravished appearance! And he was the one responsible for it! He kissed her eyes tenderly and grinned with satisfaction at her.

“Are you well, my love? How are my girls tonight?” he said softly as he slipped his hand between them to caress her belly.

She chuckled at his words. Sometimes she felt slightly annoyed at his stubbornness to refuse the possibility of their child being a male. She would have expected him to wish for an heir for Pemberley. Alas… her husband longed for a daughter and she found that a perplexing desire.

“Fitzwilliam Darcy! How can you be so obstinate! Why do you insist the baby is a girl? How can you know? It can be a boy, my love… Wouldn’t you like an heir to your estate, dearest?”

He kissed her lips soundly and rolled her on her back. He moved back the bed covers, revealing her bare body to his eyes. He cupped her belly with his hand and rubbed it adoringly.

“My sweet wife!” he sighed and moved down to kiss her pregnant abdomen. “I know this child is a girl…” he moved back to his pillow and covered her to protect her from the chilly night. “… just as I know for certain we have made her on the steps of the bathing machine!”

Elizabeth blushed violently and hid her face in the curve of his neck. “Do you remember, my love?” he whispered into her hair as he tightened his arms around her.

“Fitzwilliam!” she groaned as she pressed her flushed face into him.

“You may choose not to believe me… but our little one will be a beautiful girl… with chocolate curls and sparkling dark eyes… just like her mama… Beautiful, witty and lively… just like you, my lovely wife, the keeper of my heart… my very own temptress…”

He showered her face with feathery kisses and he whispered “How I love you, dearest Elizabeth!”

Elizabeth looked up at him with misty eyes, her face exuding love and absolute adoration for her husband. Silent tears of joy ran down her face as she allowed herself to drown in his loving gaze. “I love you… I love you…” she repeated softly.

They had both suffered and travelled a long way to achieve their present bliss. Yes, Elizabeth thought as he dried her tears with his warm lips, We are very happy now… Blissfully happy… and thoroughly loved…


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